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Climate Reality Project at OSU joins global climate agreement conversation

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Ohio State students and community members joined the Climate Reality Project at OSU on Friday for a press conference to discuss the upcoming United Nations Summit on Climate Change and the importance of developing a worldwide plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The 21st Conference of Parties, or COP21, will take place Nov. 30 in Paris and will continue for two weeks. The goal of this summit is for all 195 countries to develop a strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and keep the planet from warming an average of 2 degrees Celsius, a temperature that would be disastrous for human life, according to a conference press release.

“Our future is dependent on the decisions that will be made at COP21 in just a few weeks,” said Chelsea Cancino, a first-year in environmental science and a member of the Climate Reality Project at OSU. “We must come together as a local community to demand a global commitment for large fuel reductions and ensure the health of our planet and the safety of our future.”

The press conference, held in Woody’s Tavern in the Ohio Union, featured various speakers and a showing of the first hour of the “24 Hours of Reality and Live Earth,” a 24-hour live broadcast with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and various artists to show world leaders that the time to take climate action is now.

Jasmine Ruddy, the Climate Reality Project field organizer at OSU, said she has made it her goal to find passionate students who want to raise awareness about the UN Summit on Climate Change.

“Regardless of your age, location, political affiliation, gender or race, climate change will affect all of our lives,” she said. “It’s about calling on our political leaders to say it’s time to stop what we’re doing. We know that fossil fuels are the root of this problem. We know the solution is to transition to a clean energy economy … we just need the political will to do it.”

Cancino, one of the speakers, stressed in her speech to students how important it is to take action and create a world with clean, renewable energy and a stable climate.

“Climate change is a very current topic and it’s important for young people to know because we’re the ones that have to deal with it in the future,” she said. “It’s something that I’m really passionate about, and if I can share that with others, that’s great.”

Cathy Cowan Becker, a graduate student studying public policy, also spoke at the press conference. She will be traveling to Paris for the two-week UN Summit on Climate Change conference and said students at OSU can help make a difference.

“We can be a model for lowering carbon emissions and being sustainable, and we can educate almost 60,000 students as to why this is important,” she said.

According to Becker, developed and developing countries have been divided over how to reduce greenhouse emissions. Having COP21 be the first conference to create a binding plan among all countries will be monumental.

Mark Dickerhoof, a first-year in business and sustainability, attended the press conference because he wanted to see what people had to say about the issue of climate change, both from OSU speakers and those featured in “24 Hours of Reality.”

“I think it’s pretty obvious that we need to act on climate change,” he said. “We want a secure future and we want action on climate change, and so the only question is why aren’t we acting on it?”

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